Given the campaign they’re running, it would be difficult for No to AV to come up with a more ironic slogan than this week’s
we don’t want two votes, we want politicians who aren’t two faced.
There are actually two lies here: firstly, that AV gives anyone two votes. Secondly, that FPTP is the best way to keep politicians from lying. We’ll take them one at a time.
AV does not give people two votes
As I explained before, AV is derived from the Single Transferable Vote. The clue’s in the name. You have a single vote. It’s transferable. To claim that AV gives anyone more than one vote is to fundamentally misunderstand its intention. As its core, AV takes the simple preposition that for an MP to claim to represent a constituency, they should command the support of a majority of voters in that constituency. The only way to guarantee that one candidate will end up with more than half the votes is to only have two candidates standing. Of course, that would massively limit the choice of the electorate to express their views, so we allow more candidates to stand. By eliminating the last place candidates one at a time, we can narrow the field until only one remains, asking everyone to choose between those that remain each time, and eventually forcing a majority. Holding many elections would be expensive and time consuming though, so we simply ask everyone to write down who they would choose in the later rounds if they were still in the running. Thus, the AV gets its American name, Instant-Runoff Voting.
FPTP is the worst way to keep politicians from lying
As the current government and the expenses scandal have shown, FPTP does not provide fertile soil for honesty. When two thirds of MPs are under no threat of losing their seat, they have no accountability if they don’t work hard or fail to act with integrity. While no-one is claiming AV would eliminate safe seats, it would massively reduce the number of them. When MPs are in real danger of losing their seat, they will need to work harder to stay in power, and have more incentive to deliver on promises they made during the campaign. Evidence from the US (where AV has been slowly gaining ground, having been adopted by new cities in referendums every year since 2004) even shows that AV has given an advantage to hard working, community focused candidates, as opposed to those backed by big money.
No to AV updated on Sunday last week. I wonder what new lie they’ll have for us tomorrow?